As parents, we want the best for our kids. So we often think more is better. After all, 90% of brain growth happens before Kindergarten (FirstThingsFirst.Org). Although exposing your child to lots of rich language is crucial for developing those skills, consider this - pausing is powerful.
Pausing in Play
Children are constantly giving us cues with what they are feeling and thinking. They do this through body language, facial expressions, toys they choose, and sounds they make. While playing with your child, try pausing and watching your child for a minute. Is he or she touching the wheels on a toy car? By noticing that has captured your child's attention, change your focus to the wheels too! Show your child how they spin, and take turns making them go. Use words like "wheels", "round", "circle", and "go" to talk about them. Pausing during play can help you tune into what interests your child. And that is likely something he or she will want to talk more about!
Pausing During Routines
A parent's intuition is real. As their #1 companion, you probably know when your child is hungry, thirsty or tired before anyone else would. To encourage your child's speech and language skills, try to pause before anticipating your child's needs. Instead of opening your child's bag of fruit snacks, give it to him or her closed and then pause. Wait for your child to use a gesture or word to communicate with you. He or she may hand it back, point to it, or say a word like "help". By pausing during routines, you are giving your child more opportunities to communicate!
Pausing in Songs
Sounds of nursery rhymes like The Itsy Bitsy Spider may have filled your house since your child was just a baby. Did you know that pausing during familiar songs can actually teach your child to sing the words? While singing the line in one of your child's favorite songs, pause before the last word.
For example, Down came the rain and washed the spider...(pause).
Give your child a look as if you expect him or her to say something. Pause for about 10 seconds. Your child may finish the line by singing the word, "out!". If not, go ahead and say that last word and try pausing again at another point in the song.
Pausing in Books
One of the best ways to get your child involved during book reading is pausing.
Pause before you open the book. Let your child see the cover. He or she might comment on the pictures or the title. And that can lead to a great discussion about what the book might be about!
While reading the book, pause before turning the page. That way, your child has time to think about the story and talk about it! Pausing while reading also lets you see what your child is interested in. When you pause, you might notice he or she points to a certain picture or says a word to let you know what he or she thinks is interesting. Then you can keep his or her engaged in the story by building off of what your child shows interest in!
Sometimes, less is more. When it comes to developing your child's speech and language skills, remember that pausing is powerful!